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should be incentives unto solemn confesfiott and serious repentance. Judah's sin brought him low; Nehemiah made this a ground of acknowledgment, and a reason for covenantrenovation. Our case is greatly similar to theirs: When we'were a kingdom, like them, ■we were far from serving God in our places and stations. Now we are servants, not to a despotic Prince, as Judah was, indeed, but to the Legiflature of a neighbouring kingdom. Our land yieldeth a fund of tax for that power which God hath set over Vis for our sins. What is to be done in such a case ? .We must halt between two opinions, fay some: The times are too bad for making a surrender of ourselves unto the Lord: But, said Nehemiah, in all this distress, Let Us Mark A Sure CoveNant.
OLD TESTAMENT CHURCH TO THAT
Isaiah xix. 18, si, &c.
THE practice of the Church of God, under .the Old Testament, is so decisive in favour of covenanting, that there is no room to hesitate, If it was the means of reformation under that dispensation. But, under the New Testament, not a few dispute its lawfulness, as well as the expediency of attempting it. To determine this point, I shall Enquire,
I. If the Laws, by which the Old Testament
Church was bound to perform this duty, be of
perpetual obligation under the New Testament.
—II. If the Spiritual nature of the better œco
S ss 2 nomy
nomy admits of such a duty j and if, consider-! ing the peculiar genius of it, especially the peculiar form in which the promises of it are adr ministered on the part of God, we are laid under particular obligations to such a practice on our part.—III. Whether the predictions of the Old Testament prophets, concerning the New Testament Church, aiford foundation for the exercise of faith in this duty in gospel days. —IV. If this duty was taught and exemplified in the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. If I prove the affirmative of any of these, much more of them all, I will not hesitate to conclude, That covenanting is a duty transferred from the Old to the New Testament Church.
FIRST, I shall enquire if the La W, by which the Old Testament Church was bound unto the performance of this duty, be of perpetual obligation in the Gospel Church. The formJ reason of every duty originates in the authority of a law upon the conscience. If persons adventure upon any duty without God's prescription, they will find themselves at a loss to answer that important question, Who hath required this at your hand ? -The nature of die divine law determines the specific nature of those duties which are required by it: That is, positive laws enjoin positive obedience, and moral precepts moral obedience. The question before us resolves itself into this form, Was covenanting enjoined by the moral law;
or. or by some positive precept under the Old Testament dispensation? To avoid ambiguity, as much as may be, on this head, it may be observed, That laws are said to be moral which |ake rise from the nature of Cod, and from that relation in which he stands unto his rational creatures, as their moral governor. These laws are #0 be found, as in miniature, in the ten commandments; and are more copiously explained in the writings of the prophets and apostles J But they were of force prior to the giving of the law from Sinai; and to the various hints which were given to the patriarchs. That the moral law, and that only, afforded warrant for covenanting under the Old Testament may be made out various ways.
1. Sundry precepts in that law obliged un-s to this duty. The first precept, for example, binds us not only to know, but also to acknowledge and avouch the only true God as our God. Now, when this avowal is social, as well as secret, it cannot imply less than public cor venanting. The second precept of the decalogue enjoins us to receive, observe, keep pure and entire all such religious ordinances as God hath appointed in his word; one of which is, vowing and swearing unto the mighty God of Jacob. Once more, .The third precept demands the holy and reverend use of divine truth, which is a bright character of God'n name. It requires not only an oath, ou pro*
p.or. per occasions, in civil business} but also for the purpose of solemnizing our holy profession. If God deign to swear unto us; is it too much that we swear unto him? Thou Shalt PerForm Unto The Lord Thine'oaths.
2. That it is the moral law, and that only, which obliged unto the duty of covenanting will appear, if we consider that it was a law common to both Jews and Gentiles. The latter, as well as the former, were sometimes employed in this duty. The law of nature taught them, that, as they were OF God, as the first cause; so it became them to be TO him, as thdir last end: And, if so, it cannot reasonably be denied, that it became them to bind themselves To him. Now, as, in right, they ought; so, in fact, they did bind themselves unto God, and that with the solemnity of an oath. One of them reasons to the following purpose: "Thou art his workmanship; he hath not only made thee, but bestowed all his benefits upon thee."—" To this God ye ought to swear, as the soldiers do to Cæsar. But they, indeed, for the sake of wages do swear, that they will, above all things, study the wellfare of Cæsar; and, while you are loaded with so many, and so great benefits by God,—^v ill you not swear unto him? Or, when you have sworn,—will ye not perform s And what should you swear r That yc will always obey his voice; ihat ye will never complain of him: that ye